Epic Academy Field Trip

by Maria Espinosa and Vince Morgan, MS2s

EPIC academy is a charter school in the South Shore neighborhood of Chicago that prides itself in its 100% rate of college acceptance rate for its seniors. Thanks to Associate Dean of Students, James Woodruff, MD, and his connection with EPIC’s Executive Director through his work with the Provident Foundation, several high school students from EPIC Academy were able to visit Pritzker on June 23. A small cohort of students from EPIC who were struggling with science courses were invited to take a field trip to the medical school for a day in order to interact with medical students who could share how they overcame academic and personal challenges. The aim was to expose these students to medical students that looked like them, encountered similar challenges, and were able to overcome them in order to achieve their personal and professional career goals.

Vince Morgan and Hanna Vollbrecht, MS2s, led an opening presentation on an overview of the journey to medical school. A panel of second year medical students followed, covering topics such as how to finance college, how to cope with a poor exam score, and how to ask others for help. Featured on the panel were Maria Espinosa, Joe Kern, Tyrone Johnson, Julia Naman, and Nzuekoh Nchinda.

Some pertinent advice included:

  • “Just remember that a bad grade does not define you. You are capable of doing better the next time, and the time after that.”
  • “Making small changes to your sleeping habits, diet, and exercise can have huge effects on your academic performance. Holistic wellness is important.”
  • “Apply to scholarships even if the award amount is small! These can add up and usually aren’t as competitive due to less applicants.”

The medical student panel was a great chance for these students to learn more about the challenges and opportunities of high school and college.  More importantly, they learned about these issues from role models with whom they could more easily identify. After the panel, the students participated in a vital signs workshop where medical students taught them how to perform various parts of the physical exam and learn about the human body.

As we work as a community to better the lives of those living in Chicago, especially our surrounding area on the South Side, it is key that we emphasize the development of the city’s youth. Programs such as these, where high school students can gain exposure to new careers and interact with potential mentors, are just a start. It will take a great deal of effort to give many of Chicago’s youth the resources they deserve, but Pritzker and its students are committed to putting in the work to inspire the next generation of leaders.